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My experience on Camino Sanabres (and accommodations)

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Time of past OR future Camino
2018
First, this was my fourth Camino and was the most consistently beautiful walk I've done. Hilly, varied and so scenic!

My daughter and I walked from Puebla de Sanabria to Santiago Apr. 14 - May 2 and were incredibly lucky to hit a period of warm, mild, dry weather. People who walked a few weeks before us and a week or so after us seemed to have a lot of cold, rainy weather. See @Camino Chrissy 's comprehensive account and pictures in her "Live on The Camino" thread.

At one point, we were high in the hills before Laza, swinging on a swing, and it was shorts and tee shirt weather. I wet my bandana to keep my head cool. (I'm cleaning up my blog about my walk, but you can read more about this stretch and the swing on Elle Bieling's excellent site: )
We ran into someone who had walked that stretch a few weeks before us and she showed us a picture of that spot with three inches of snow! So yeah, weather varies wildly in northern Spain and we were blessed. During our walk, the temp went up to over 80F (27C) and a couple of mornings went below 40F (4C).

I will send a link to my trip blog soon (after I cull about 4000 fotos!), but I wanted to say something about our experience with accommodations on the part of the Sanabres we walked. One thing to keep in mind is that, like the weather, the number of people on the trail can apparently vary quite a bit. We did not see One. Single. Person. walking on the Camino Sanabres until after Ourense, and still only saw one or two a day. I'm not kidding. There were folks in the albergues when we got there - usually 9 or so in a 40 bed albergue - but they had walked from Sevilla on La Plata, so they were hardcore, starting at dawn and doing 35K a day or so and we never saw them until we stopped each afternoon!

About our experience with Accommodations... please don't take my descriptions/style of traveling as the final word. Everyone is different (and I'm even different myself on different days!). Some people book all their stays ahead of time and there are some advantages to that. You can walk in leisure and not have to think about where you're going to stay that night. If you're mostly wanting to say in private rooms or private albergues, it can make sense. We booked our first day in Puebla de Sanabria and our last day in Santiago ahead of time. A couple of times we booked a day in advance along the route. But most of the time we tentatively planned where we'd stop and then would find a place to stay that we liked once we got there. We were really glad we did that for a variety of reasons. It gave us a lot of flexibility to decide on the fly. On a busier route like the Frances, I would keep an eye on where there might be bottlenecks in the road with more pilgrims than beds. I either booked ahead or planned to stay in a smaller village before or after the popular stage end.

Galicia has built convenient, modern albergues along most of the Sanabres route. They all have washers and dryers, nice kitchens (no utensils, so bring those), big sitting rooms and bunkbeds with disposable sheets. They do not accept reservations, and they were always way under-filled when we got in, as I said. They are $10 a night. Most of the time that's where we stayed and they were comfortable.

Originally, just from perusing Gronze.com and WisePilgrim, I thought we might take a rest day in Ourense and sit in the hot springs and see some of the interesting sites. Initially, the reason I didn't plan a rest day there is because I have found from past experience that a "rest day" in a bigger city does not usually involve much rest. I end up walking around more to explore and see all the sites, etc. than I might do in a day on the Camino!

Ourense is an interesting city with a lot to offer, and many people have reported a lovely time there so please don't let my experience sway you. When we got there, the hot springs near the albergue were drained. The graffiti all over the walls and the grey weather that day depressed us. We missed the smaller villages and were happy to move on after one night in the albergue.

I like to read on the forum about others' experiences, but I often find that my impressions or preferences turn out to be different from others' reports. I decided to start our walk in Puebla de Sanabria, because I'd heard it was a gorgeous, not-to-be-missed village that has been recognized as an Historic-Artistic Site, has a magnificent castle from the 1500s with a beautiful river below. It's pretty, but it was crawling with tourists the day we were there and if I'd known, I would have started the walk a stage before and just stopped in Puebla for lunch and a quick walk around. Many other people love it, though.

We didn't know where we'd take a rest day off, but we knew it when we found it! My favorite little town on the whole route was Xunqueira de Ambia and we stayed two days there. The town has a history going back to the 4th Century when the Virgen made an appearance and there is a lovely, very old church there. It's a small pueblo, but vibrant with children playing in the plaza, people walking dogs, lively card games going on in the bars. I've attached a few pics from that town (after the pic of my daughter on the Swing):1. Casa Tomas where we stayed, 2. the faded Generalismo Franco sign high on the wall next to the hostel (the folks there were horrified when I pointed it out. They seemed to have forgotten it was there!), 3. an arch along the road, 4. the "Tute" card game going on in a bar (I tried to learn the rules while I was there and I bought a pack of Spanish playing cards), 5. an old engraving on the church, 6. front of the church, 7. my daughter sitting in front of Casa Tomas with a view of the side of the church, etc.

We stayed at Hostel Casa Tomas in a private, two bed room. Here is some info. about Casa Tomas, because we loved it there and recommend it: the location is perfect and Tomas is a riot.

Address: San Rosendo Square, 13
Phone: +34 637 580 772
Email: alberguecasatomas@outlook.es
Reservations accepted

€18Shared bedroom
€36Double room
€54Triple room
€72Quadruple room
9Places in shared dormitories
3Number of bedrooms

More about accommodations: When I made the reservation for Santiago, I assumed one rest day along the camino. But, as often happens, we took another rest day when my daughter caught a respiratory illness. I had to change our reservation in Santiago to a day later. If I'd had all my accommodations booked, I'd have to have changed all of them (or taxi ahead), so I'm glad I didn't.

To plan - tentatively or definitively - where to stay the next night, we checked @geraldkelly 's La Plata guide, the WisePilgrim app on the phone and also Gronze.com, all of which have pretty up-to-date info. and reviews. As I said, we mostly stayed in the public albergues, and those don't take reservations.

On WisePilgrim, there is often a link to Booking.com to make your reservation. This is convenient and easy to do and I sometimes use it. But it is important to know that most accommodations have more rooms available than are listed on Booking.com so it might look like the place is full, even though there are beds available. Hostals/private albergues/pensiones/etc. don't like having to pay a fee to Booking.com, which is why they don't list all their rooms there. You can also often get a cheaper or pilgrim rate if you book directly with the host. The easiest way to do this is to WhatsApp or email them. If you don't speak Spanish, just translate a phrase you can use, like: "Por favor dígame si hay dos camas disponibles manana, abril. 17. Llegaremos a las 13:00h. ¡Muchas gracias!"
My Spanish is pretty good, but I have a little more trouble on the telephone (also because my hearing is not great). I sound like I'm fluent, so when I ask "hay dos camas disponibles", even though I hope for a "Si" or "No" answer, I usually get a long monologue response that I don't fully understand on the phone. Easy solution is to ask your current hospitalero/a or even a barkeeper to make the call for you.

That's all for now!
 

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Last edited:
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

€46,-
What a great trip and thanks for the lovely photos I'm about to start vdlp next week so looking forward to it
 
Thank you for your nice report! I am now even looking more forward to my own Camino Francés. I'll walk my first stage (Verín - Laza) in a week from now :)
 
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

€46,-
Thanks for the update. I'm glad to hear you made it OK and that you liked this Camino!
 

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